Does Better Sleep Help with Weight Loss?

Most people are confused as to whether sleep makes people gain weight or lose weight. According to numerous scientific researches, there is a consensus that sleep does actually help in weight loss. In one study for instance, that was published in Sleep journal, researchers examined the relationship between the BMI (body mass index) and sleep patterns in 1000 twins. The study showed that people who slept for 7.2 hours per night on average had lower BMI. On the other hand, those who slept for fewer hours had higher BMI. The point is that if you are trying to lose weight, sleeping is just as crucial as sweating yourself silly at the gym.

a woman sleeping

So Why Does Sleep Matter?

There are two big reasons why sleep is so important for weight loss. The first one is the behavioral aspect.  The amount of sleep you get affects what you are likely to eat.  The second aspect has to do with metabolism ( Deprivation of sleep significantly changes what will happen to the food once you have ingested it.

How Sleep affects Cravings and Behavior

Countless studies have shown that if given a chance, sleep-deprived individuals will consume more food, and more so junk food. In other words, if you too are sleep-deprived, you will choose comfort foods for your diet. Sleep deprivation is also a big risk factor for overeating high-carb junk food and sugar cravings. In the end, you will put more weight and hence hinder your weight loss efforts.

How Sleep Impacts on Your Metabolism


When you are sleep-deprived, the following things happen:

Your body reduces insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity refers to the body’s metabolic capacity to deal with eating carbs. It uses them for energy instead of storing them under the skin in the form of fats. When there is reduction of insulin sensitivity, it simply means that your body will store food in the form of fat, and you will still be left hungry.

Your body alters gut flora composition: although no one has iron-clad certainty about the relationship between obesity and gut flora, we all know that a relationship exists.

Ample Sleep Ceases Late-Night Snacking

Staying awake for longer increases your chances of consuming calories that you actually don’t need. This alone is enough to make you gain 2 pounds a week, if a study by University of Pennsylvania is anything to go by. Over a period of 7 days, these researchers discovered that sleep-deprived individuals gained more weight compared to their sufficiently-rested counterparts. The main reason for this is that they consumed 550 calories at a time the other group spent sleeping.


It could be that you are doing everything right with your exercise routine and diet but if you cannot sleep for more than 6 hours a night, you will be sabotaging yourself. Your sleep pattern has a huge impact on your weight loss efforts. It not only reduces your body’s metabolic rate but also increases your chances of eating unnecessary calories at a time when you should be sleeping. If you are trying to shed some pounds, know that a chronic sleep debt won’t do you any good.